A Message from Dean Matson

Steven W. Matson, Dean

Steven W. Matson, Dean

Graduate students make up almost 30 percent of UNC-Chapel Hill's student population. If you were taking a walk on campus on a crisp fall day, one out of every three students you see could be a graduate student.

During the fall semester, I've had the opportunity to share that figure with many people who care about graduate education, at Carolina and beyond. It makes a powerful statement. The figure makes tangible what we already know about graduate education at our University — graduate students, working closely with their faculty advisors, are producing research that improves human life, and drives our nation's economy and its wide-reaching reputation for innovation.

Our University's new Chancellor, Carol L. Folt, began her leadership role on July 1. Already it is clear that she views graduate students and graduate education as a key strength of Carolina.

Our University's new Chancellor, Carol L. Folt, began her leadership role on July 1. Already it is clear that she views graduate students and graduate education as a key strength of Carolina. Chancellor Folt came to us from Dartmouth College, and in her three decades at that prestigious Ivy League institution, she was an award-winning professor of biological sciences and held many key administrative posts, including provost and interim president. She held another position that is certainly near to my heart: dean of graduate studies.

Chancellor Folt made time to speak to the Graduate Education Advancement Board at their fall meeting in October. She shared her comprehensive understanding and support for graduate education. She articulated a crucial role for graduate students at Carolina, saying that “they can often be the matrix that holds together the postdocs, the faculty and the undergraduates. They keep us ‘real.’ They bring us the new ideas; they are constantly at the cutting edge.”

I could not agree more with the Chancellor, and I look forward to working with Chancellor Folt and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost James W. Dean Jr. to further enhance the already strong graduate programs at Carolina.

Carolina's graduate students are invested in their education and in their future careers. As you will read in two of our fall newsletter's stories, they seize opportunities to advance their professional skills and help undergraduates see the possibilities of a graduate degree. (I'm pleased to also note that Laura Lacy and Jess Clark, who wrote these stories, are graduate students.)

They also plan events that bring attention to the importance of graduate education in North Carolina and the nation. Three student groups — Student Advocates for Graduate Education, the UNC Graduate and Professional Student Federation and the UNC Science Policy Advocacy Group — sponsored a Graduate Education Summit in early November to highlight the importance of graduate education in North Carolina and the nation.

Chancellor Folt and I were two of the eight panelists who took part in this event. The other panelists were:

The students did a fantastic job in bringing speakers with such diversity of experience to our University. This event was an important contribution to our campus' continuing dialogue on graduate education.

The Graduate Education Summit panelists made the point that graduate education is a powerful source of innovation, creativity and hope. Carolina is poised to make the most of these strengths. Thank you for your own investment in graduate education at our University — and happy holidays to you and your families.

Steven W. Matson, Ph.D.
Dean, The Graduate School
Professor of Biology
UNC-Chapel Hill